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COVID 1 Year: Long Island Nurse Who Documented Painful Journey Warns Fight Is Not Over

MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Healers and health care heroes never stopped fighting during the pandemic.

Including one nurse on Long Island who kept a record of her experiences.

"It's a war we're fighting, but I wouldn't want to be any other place but here fighting it," said Elyse Isopo, a nurse practitioner at North Shore University Hospital.

While on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus, she has been clenching onto the wins and coping with so much loss.

"Yay! Someone is going home," she said in one video entry.

"We lost a patient this morning, a young guy. That was really heartbreaking. He has three young kids," she said in another. "I cried, had a little meltdown, took a deep breath and went back to work, because that's what we do."


When her alarm goes off at 4 a.m., she gets up and takers her temperature. It's part of an involved routine getting into work each day.

At the height of the pandemic, she barely had days off.

"Every day is a different situation. We don't go day-by-day, we go moment-by-moment," she said.

Working tirelessly to save patients hospitalized alone.

"I'm a big believer if you can't save someone, we can let them die peacefully and help them die peacefully," said Isopo. "There was a lot of hands that I held, but now we were the family... There was nothing like it."

The mother of three also tried to keep her own family safe. When COVID hit, there was so much unknown.

"I had a decontamination center in my backyard, and I would just get undressed," she said "Clorox everything, wash my hands and then just run straight in the shower, just not to bring it home to anybody."

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One video shows her greeting her children from a distance.

"Mommy's home!" she said. "This time of day is exciting. I get to see my little one and all my kids, but also a little stressful because I can't give my baby a hug."

DeAngelis asked if, looking back on the pandemic, there was a moment that hit the hardest.

"Patients were in the intensive care and not making it. Then my father and my mother both got COVID, and my father got hospitalized. That was the moment I said, 'how am I going to make it through this?'" she replied.

That was in March, but her parents made it through -- as did her very first COVID patient, a father of three admitted on March 6.

"I'm looking forward to that day, to texting them and wishing them a happy anniversary that they have their dad," she said.


It's the people she cares for and her team that have kept her going. Plus, the vaccine. Isopo was among the first five Northwell employees vaccinated on Dec. 14.

"It gave a sense of peace and hope and that light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

She encourages others to take the shot, saying the war we're in isn't over and we must keep fighting.

"We're still living it. We'll still have COVID cases coming in every single day," she said. "We have to just unite together, and we'll get through anything."

Her advice is don't let your guard down just yet, continue wearing masks and social distancing, so we can put an end to this pandemic, once and for all.

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